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DIY Art Lessons, Teacher Conference and Chickens on Motor Cycles

Over the weekend while the boys were taking their afternoon naps, and the house was a bit more peaceful, less raucous laughter and flurries of toy trucks, Maria and I pulled out big blank sheets of paper in the early afternoon light, “For what, mama?”

I looked up “Art Lessons for Kids” on YouTube with some paper and a pencil, fun and educational, I thought.  Little did I know that 2 hours later, Maria would still be sketching, focusing, seeping in the instruction, amazed at a new skill, building up confidence, eager to learn.  The first video was 15 minutes and I taught her how to pause the video and play again, and she watched, and sketched lines, curves, erased, started over, “I can’t…”

“It looks amazing!” I reassured.

“Mama, I could never draw that face, so beautiful!”

“Well, just follow what the person is saying, try your best, you are an awesome artist.”

She focused so hard, tried many, many faces.  What I thought would be maybe a fun, DIY art lesson, turned into a long opportunity of intrigue, hard work, excitement at her new skills.  She looked up how to draw a laughing panda, a happy kitten, a haunted house.

One of the things that I love, that brings me so much joy in parenting Maria is her diligence, her appreciation, her contentedness, her love of learning.  When I was younger, I was paid by many a wealthier family to help care for their kids and I would always come up with ‘projects’ or lessons, most of which I could barely get the kids to be excited about, to even do for longer than 5 minutes with a smile, “Fun, right guys,” to shrugged shoulders.

Maria can’t believe I would take the time to help her learning something so ” ‘mazing, so fun!  Look, I can’t believe it!”  As I tell her how proud I am of her.

Confidence, a fraction of encouragement and she can do it, it’s all she’s ever really needed, and now, she has it.

“Mama at the school library, I get a book for me, and I picked one for my brothers,” she tells me proudly, she has such endearing ownership over her relationship with them.  “I think they will really like it.”  One week she picked a book about Trucks for them, a huge hit.  Then Mickey and the Bean Stock.  The boys are now obsessed.  She took her time to read it to them.
“Fee, Fi, Fo Fumee!  I smell a boy, and boys are yummy!”

Finley listened the first half, then turned Maria into the road for his car as she finished the book.  Classic.

Today when I picked up Elijah from his BSF class, his cute teacher was like, “He did great!  But boy, we really have to watch him.”
“Welcome to my world,” I smiled.
He is smaller than the average two year old, but oh man, he’s quick.  He’s fast, he’s a climber and is pretty sure he can do most things all by himself.
All those months he spent sitting in a crib when there was a big, whole world for him to explore, test, deconstruct, well he’s making up for lost time.
But even with his no-fear, zest for life that includes being very busy, he is heart melting, man.  Oh boy, he is cute, he is sweet, goofy.  He speaks his own little language that makes us feel like he knows so many words, until we realize maybe it’s just us who understand him.

“I won aba mama”
(He wants water)

“Mama ha tew eye!”
(Mommy has two eyes.  Two is also used for any amount of items over 1, two just means plural.)

Look at me now, Putin! Kisses from America!


Our garden is growing and growing.  Who would have thought!

Radishes are flourishing, the only thing we have really harvested yet.  They seem to be unending, and their tart bite of a flavor has grown on all of us.

I asked Andrew to make two more garden boxes out of our scrap wood in honor of Jonalyn coming for Christmas, our one lone thought and preparation thus far, oh boy…


In BSF this week, we covered Matthew six, shot me to the heart.  I heard it, and felt the need for it to sink deeper, all sorts of spending your time and efforts on things that matter, not on things that don’t.  This whole year has been so gripping for me, and, man, Jesus doesn’t give a rip what anyone thinks of him, cuts straight to the heart.  He could care less about religious people and their fancy, prideful actions. 

We had good, deep discussion, then someone added something, “This may be little, but just the act of taking care of my house without the need for my husband to see, notice or thank me, because honestly that is  what I want, and what I am looking for, I get so annoyed when he doesn’t…”

We all nodded, “Totally!” laughed, groaning.  And when we ask for our thanks from a tired husband, “I freaking cleaned something, where’s my reward!?” we get our reward in full in that moment.

But to serve our families as we would serve the Lord, without the need of praise.  God cares about our heart, and honestly, when we take our focus off of the need from recognition, it is freeing.
That morning, many wise women shared deep, profound thoughts, but we all laughed at this almost silly, shared experience.

//Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.
“When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.//  Matthew 6: 1-4


This morning was Maria’s parent teacher conference, 7am.  Her teacher is amazing, strict and has high standards for her students.  She is totally sassy with them, which I always love, because sometimes I feel like I am sassy, but feel conflicted about it, but she owns it, with great results.

“How is she doing?”

“Maria has an incredible attitude–no matter what.  She has wonderful effort, and is very 

Oooooooooooooooh man.  Who needs expensive cruises to the Bahamas, fancy homes, fine things when the best feelings you could ever experience come from a tiny classroom in an almost run-down public school at an hour that you shouldn’t even be awake.  We could have burst.
She just loves her. 
Maria is thriving–you guys, I can’t even…


These new baby chicks know how to ride in style.  Such spoiled little birdies.
But seriously, I am obsessed with the Buff bread.  They are so sweet and kind with kids.  Content to sit and cuddle.


Our friends visited us last night from Ohio…

The last time we were together with them was in MOSCOW!!  We were with them on all 3 of our trips in the same hotel, nothing bonds you like that.

The whole night we kept saying, “LOOK AT THEM!” as we pointed and gushed over each others kids.  We were the first to see each other’s children their first days out of the orphanage, asking the front desks for cribs together.

Almost one year ago these three on the right were freshly picked from orphanages in Vlad and were tiny, scared and rocking themselves silly. Last night, these LOVED, vibrant children had pizza dinner with their families! Happy flippin’ National adoption Month!! We LOVE our friends who we met half a world away

Finley, Lexie, Maria and Elijah.  
These four are total adoption advocates and fans.
Cause there is nothin’ like having a mama and papa all your own.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Amber November 6, 2013, 11:42 pm

    I cannot BELIEVE she wrote that! After less than a year of school…wow. Way to go, Maria. You are so, so smart.

  • kmac November 7, 2013, 12:19 am

    Love, love, love all these kids!

  • Adoption Love November 7, 2013, 1:26 am

    Radishes, chickens, cute HAPPY kids…it doesn’t get any better! Happy national adoption month!

  • Crystal Kupper November 7, 2013, 7:51 am

    Love hearing all the little parts of your everyday life.

  • Wendy Talley, Portsmouth, VA November 8, 2013, 4:52 pm